Saturday, September 19, 2015

Mammootty-Kamal Movie: Utopiayile Rajavu, a fictional place called Kokrankara & a Hero called CP Swathanthran!

Some movies flop at the box office and often I find myself wondering why. 

I read an old interview in Vanitha magazine about Malayalam film directors analyzing their movies that flopped. 

Director Kamal talked about how 'Azhakiya Ravanan' flopped at the box office and reasoned that it had a futuristic vision that Malayalis probably were not ready for at that time. He mentions specifically about the heroine depicted as having submitted herself to the anti-hero and then being accepted by 'the hero.' 

I disagree with Kamal's statement - that may not have been the sole reason for the movie becoming a flop. 

Padmarajan's movie 'Nammuku paarkaan mundiri thoppukal' depicted the heroine being raped by her step father and the hero carries her away - literally and cinematically - off her feet. Even today, the average Malayali loves that film. 

The same goes for the unconventional character of the main female protagonist  'Clara' in yet another Padmarajan starrer 'Thuvanathumbikal.'

Malayalis don't have a bias against the cinematic depiction of heroines who are depicted on screen to have lost their "virtue" before they reach the loving arms of the hero. But the script and execution has to be brilliant for it to be accepted- and not all directors succeed.

Don't get me wrong. Kamal is a director whose movies are thought-provoking and sometimes, trend-setting.

Utopiayile Rajavu: Criticism about depiction of women
I read many film reviews about Utopiayile Rajavu, criticizing depiction of women as sex objects. I disagree. 
The portrayal is neither obscene nor vulgar, it mirrors the changes in our society.
                                           (Source: Google Images)
Utopiayile Rajavu: A Fictional Place called Kokrankara
Most Malayalam films show real places. In Utopiayile Rajavu, the plot unfolds around a vibrant fictional place called Kokrankara. I also loved the funny song that is shown at the beginning of this film. It's very peppy!
If you think the name of the place is funny, wait a sec. 
The 'hero''s name is.....CP Swathanthran!
Utopiayile Rajavu: This Funny Story is told by.....Statues!

The statues of a dead Gandhian and that of Jesus Christ (with an unusual sarcastic look on his face) are dumped together in a sculptor's backyard. 

The Gandhian tells Jesus about his son CP Swathanthran (starring Mammooty) who lives in Kokrankara, is in love with an activist girl (starring Jewel Mary)  and also waging a legal battle to get back his property from the clutches of a scheming landlord cousin. The actor who plays the role of the cousin is a very talented actor, especially in portraying mean roles! 
Utopiayile Rajavu: This Funny Story is told by.....Statues!
In Utopiayile Rajavu, the local activist Uma Devi is portrayed brilliantly by Jewel Mary. I liked the scene where a bunch of friends and the hero come to "bride-see" her and she says, "I am an activist. I work in the nights, travel a lot, most of my friends are males and I don't intend to cut my connections or my priorities just because I am getting married."
Think of Bangalore Days, where a girl who has great ambitions, toes her parents' way of thinking by rushing into a marriage because the family astrologer insists. I still struggle to understand the logic of glorifying this. 


Utopiayile Rajavu: What I Didn't Like
Kamal's Utopiayile Rajavu doesn't have much scope for an actor of Mammootty's calibre. The hero's role is of a village simpleton who becomes politically astute in tackling bigger issues other than installing his father's statue.
I didn't like a certain scene where a Muslim woman refuses to feed her baby unless her demand to meet Kerala CM. Oomen Chandy is fulfilled and then when CP Swathanthran tells her to feed the baby, she obeys. I can't think of any mother putting her new born baby through such hell for any reason and if she did, why would she change her mind just to obey an absolute stranger! It just didn't make any sense.
Kamal's Utopiayile Rajavu is a socio-political drama that shows us candidly everything that is happening in Kerala. It shows that every Malayali lives in an Utopian land and refuses to somehow take action when faced with reality.
A dialogue that got huge applause in the theater is when the hero barges into a Minister's office without appointment and is asked, "Who are you?," and CP Swathanthran replies, "I am a 'maramandan' like most of the janam in this state who are foolish enough to vote in elections for parties like yours so that you can prosper and we - the janam - can continue to suffer..."
That sums up an ordinary Keralite's helplessness!
And one more thing, do you know what's the latest weapon used by Kerala's local "quotation gangs" - this will blow your mind - it's stinky waste bin potshots!
Last but not the least, I love the dialogue that Lord Krishna's 'statue' tells Christ's statue when they pass by each other - that marks the finesse of a director who knows his job and his audience!

But ultimately, it's the people's verdict. And sadly, this film flopped at the box office.

Is there any movie that you liked but it flopped at the box office? Why do you think that it flopped? Do share your thoughts.

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